Improving Observation Skills

  • Introduction

    listen twice as much as you speak
    “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
    — Epictetus (AD 55 – c.135)

    Growing up, you might have heard this quote a lot from your parents, mostly when they wanted you to be quiet and pay attention. Listening is an observation skill that we are taught early on and is very important in the workplace. However, most of us also have two eyes to see, two hands to feel, a nose to smell, and a mouth to taste. We use all five senses to observe the world around us.

    But what exactly is observation? According to the Oxford online dictionary, "observation is the action or process of observing something or someone in order to gain information". Our observation skills inform us about objects, events, attitudes and phenomena using one or more senses. Additionally, being able to observe and gather information about the world is important because it's the basis of communicating well.

    Improving your observation skills allows you to “listen” with more than just your ears and make better decisions. It also enhances your ability to interact with others and to respond in an appropriate manner. Both are keys to success at work and at home. In the workplace, a good employee not only listens well, but is also aware of what is happening around them.

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